TMJ has learnt that Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Limited (MIFCO), a company that has consistently claimed losses, has spent several millions on select local media.
Sources speaking to TMJ on the condition of anonymity had shared the details of such expenses.
As such, the greatest number of contributions had gone to RaajjeTV – a station owned by Hoarafushi Constituency Member of Parliament Ahmed Saleem. RaajjeTV is closely aligned with ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). Statistics show that MIFCO lowest monthly contribution to RaajjeTV was MVR 56,180 (US$ 3,648.08). In some months, this figure had reached MVR 200,000 (US$ 12,987.10).
Details of 2022 contribution
4th June 2022: MVR 56,180 (US$ 3,648.08)
1st May 2022: MVR 56,180 (US$ 3,648.08)
1st March 2022: MVR 56,180 (US$ 3,648.08)
24th February 2022: MVR 106,000 (US$ 6,883.16)
22nd February 2022: MVR 106,000 (US$ 6,883.16)
2nd February 2022: MVR 56,180 (US$ 3,648.08)
11th January 2022: MVR 56,180 (US$ 3,648.08)
In summation, MVR 492,900 (US$ 32,006.71) was spent by MIFCO on RaajjeTV.
The next recipient is Mihaaru – the paper had earned MVR 15,900 (US$ 1,032.47) per month. As such, MIFCO had spent MVR 95,400 (US$ 6,194.85) on Mihaaru this year alone. Mihaaru has been a recipient of MIFCO generosity since 2019. Then the monthly payment was MVR 10,600 (US$ 688.32).
There was a halt on payments to Mihaaru during the pandemic from February to June 2020. Payments resumed in July 2020, with two major payments MVR 106,000 (US$ 6,883.16) in November and December each. MIFCO had made up for the unpaid months, shelling out MVR 63,600 (US$ 4,129.90) for the five months, and an additional MVR 137,800 (US$ 8,948.11). From 2021, MIFCO had granted MVR 15,900 (US$ 1,032.47) per month.
Sun Online, owned by resort tycoon Ahmed Siyam, is also a recipient of MIFCO’s generosity. Each month, the paper is given MVR 10,600 (US$ 688.32) every month. Prior to covid, the paper was given MVR 15,900 (US$ 1,032.47). This amount was revised post-covid to MVR 10,900 (US$ 707.80).
Dharivarun.com, masverin.com, and outreach.mv are the next on the list. Dharivaru earns MVR 8,000 (US$ 519.48) per month, while masverin.com earns MVR 10,000 (US$ 649.36). Outreach.mv receives MVR 7,420 (US$ 481.82).
Since the start of the year, MIFCO had spent over MVR 850,000 (US$ 55,195.18).
MIFCO receives cutbacks from donations to media
Other sources from inside the company report that the grants are given to papers, with the MIFCO heads receiving cutbacks from these transactions. Some of the transactions are carried out under direct orders from the President’s Office.
One of papers receiving MIFCO’s generosity is outreach.mv. The paper is owned by Hafsee Abdullah, spokesperson at Ministry of Home Affairs. Similarweb, an analytics page, ranks the paper 4,893rd among local websites. Traffic to the page is less than 100 per day.
Masverin.com is owned by Ahmed Shafiu, a political appointee at Ministry of Fisheries. Traffic to this website is less than 300, while dharivaru.com has daily views less than 100 per day as well.
Advertising on these papers makes little to no business sense.
TMJ’s parent paper, Dhiyares had requested MIFCO to issue the details of their ad spend, under the right to information act. MIFCO had refused to do so. The case is underway in Information Commissioner’s Office.
MIFCO is among the many State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) splurging thousands on local media for favorable coverage. President’s Office also spends millions on controlling the coverage. TMJ and Dhiyares are the sole papers that have refused to compromise journalistic integrity for cash.